The Dream Machine: to help young patients cope with chronic diseases

“Creating a space for these children whose experiences are very rarely told,” said Argerie Tsimicalis, co-author of 'The Dream Machine,' a Montreal children's book to help young patients with chronic diseases. Teresa Romano reports.

By Teresa Romano & Marco Luciani Castiglia, OMNI News

A Montreal book about children with chronic diseases aims to help patients coping with pain.

The Dream Machine was written by knowledge manager at Equitas Candace Amarante, which is a non-profit that works to advance equality and social justice in Canada and around the world.

“All children have a right to health. It’s a fundamental and basic right that should be guaranteed to them,” said Amarante. “But unfortunately, that’s not the case in the world. It’s quite the opposite of most places.”

The book describes a teenager born with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), which is a rare condition that makes your bones fragile and brittle. One day, her younger sister breaks her leg and experiences the same pains she normally does. The dream machine represents an imaginary world that distracts them from the pain.

“Approximately one million Canadians are affected by rare diseases that often appear at birth or emerge in early childhood,” according to a news release by the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

A children's booked titled The Dream Machine front cover is seen
A book called The Dream Machine is seen, Feb. 2 2024. (Courtesy, Global News Wire)

McGill University Professor Tsimicalis has been researching OI for several years.

Amarante says the idea for the book came when Tsimicalis noticed there very few books featuring children with chronic diseases.

Tsimicalis hopes that Amarante’s book will help young patients coping with chronic pain and several hospitalizations.

“Where are the stories of children who live with limitations or rare diseases? The purpose of this book is to create a space for these children whose experiences are very rarely told,” explained Tsimicalis.

Illustrator Dave Reed said that this project was a dream for him.

“It is amazing what you can do when you let yourself dream big. I now understand what impact this will have on many children.”

The Shriners Hospitals for Children (Canada) was established in Montreal in 1925 and is the only Canadian establishment within the Shriners Hospitals network. They offer ultra-specialized short-term care to children and young adults suffering from orthopedic and neuromuscular problems.

Towards the end of the book, a team of health professionals of the Canadian Shriners Hospital such as a surgeon, anesthesiologist, etc., provides practical advice for managing physical and mental pain.

“All this creative work involved in this inspiring and comprehensive book also promotes inclusion by increasing children’s knowledge of health and illness,” said Director of Nursing and Patient Services at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Canada Kelly Thorstad.

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